The 5 most entertaining Brazilian footballers in history

(From L to R) Kaka, Ronaldo, Adriano and Ronaldinho before a free-kick.
(From L to R) Kaka, Ronaldo, Adriano and Ronaldinho before a free-kick.

Brazilian football is known for the energy it carries on the pitch, stands and streets over the country. Expression through football is part of the beauty of Brazilian culture.

Children play the game in the streets from a very young age, often against older opponents. Due to the varied age group, younger players often have to find ways of getting the better of bigger opponents. It is through these games that players build their characters and personalities as players.

Brazil have blessed the world with players like Pele, Garrincha, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo Nazario, Neymar, and many more. Their unique understanding of the physics of the ball allowed them to dribble past opponents and score unbelievable goals.

A classic example of that is a memorable free-kick from Roberto Carlos against France, with goalkeeper Fabian Barthez rooted to his spot in disbelief.

Without players of that calibre who possess exceptional ability, Brazil would not have won five FIFA World Cups. Furthermore, Brazilian legend Pele is the top goalscorer in history with 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, including friendlies. Without great players, the Brazilian team would not have been able to achieve great things.

On that note, here's a look at the five most exciting and entertaining players produced by Brazil over the years. These players not only scored goals and helped their team with, but they also did so in typical Samba style with their innovative skills.

#5 Romario (1994 FIFA World Cup winner with Brazil)

Romario one of the quickest and most prolific strikers for Brazil in action for the Seleccao.
Romario one of the quickest and most prolific strikers for Brazil in action for the Seleccao.

Romario de Souza Faria was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1966. He is one of the most successful and world-renowned players to have represented Brazil. With the Seleccao, Romario won one FIFA World Cup and two Copa Americas.

Romario mainly played as a striker and represented several clubs in South America and Europe. He notched up 690 goals in 893 appearances in club football.

The Brazilian scored 55 goals in 70 games for Brazil, including five goals en route to winning the 1994 FIFA World Cup against Italy in the final. The striker was awarded the Golden Ball award for his five goals and three assists in the tournament.

Romario made use of his agility and pace exceptionally well to beat defenders and score goals. The Brazilian was adept with the ball at his feet, and glided past opponents.

In the 1990s, Romario was part of a lethal strike force alongside Hristo Stoichkov in Johan Cruyff's Barcelona team. In one game, he received the ball with his back to goal, and in one sweeping motion, Romario turned his marker, and was through on goal to score.

Romario ranks fourth in Brazil's all-time top scorers' list. He's the seventh-highest scorer in the history of the game with 780 goals in 1000 outings. He was a true entertainer and legend of his time.

#4 Neymar Jr.

Neymar is among the latest crop of world-class Brazilian talent in football.
Neymar is among the latest crop of world-class Brazilian talent in football.

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior was born in Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, in 1992. He came to prominence at a very young age, making an impact with Brazilian club Santos. The forward is renowned for using his balance and quick feet to get past opponents as if they aren't there.

Neymar is second in the list of all-time top scorers for Brazil, having scored 70 goals in 116 games since debuting for them at the age of 18. He only trails Pele in the all-time list.

The PSG attacker has scored 332 goals in 539 appearances in club football. He has scored 100 or more goals for Santos and Barcelona, and is only ten shy of achieving the same tally with Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar is extremely adept at using space around and above defenders, often scooping or lifting the ball over his opponents to create an opening.

One example of that was his goal against Villarreal in 2015. He received the ball from the left wing, took a touch off his hip, and deftly lifted it over his own and his marker's head into a gap. Neymar then volleyed the ball into the bottom right corner to cap off an incredible goal.

Another great example of Neymar's skill is his goal for Santos against rivals Flamengo in an enthralling game that ended 5-4 in Santos' favour. Ronaldinho scored a hat-trick in that game, and Neymar bagged a brace.

Neymar scored an incredible goal to put Santos 3-0 up in the game. He combined with his teammates before beating the last defender with an audacious piece of trickery, and slotting the ball into the back of the net.

At 29, Neymar still has a few years left in his tank to become Brazil's all-time top scorer. The Brazilian will also hope to achieve further success with his club PSG.

#3 Kaka (2002 FIFA World Cup winner with Brazil)

Kaka is one of the most impactful footballers to have played for Brazil.
Kaka is one of the most impactful footballers to have played for Brazil.

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, commonly known as Ricardo Kaka, was born in Gama, Brazil, in 1982. Kaka was one of the most exciting and thrilling players to watch. His smile, trademark goal celebration, and driving runs towards goal will forever be etched in fans' memories.

Kaka arguably had the most successful spell of his career with AC Milan in the 2000s, winning Serie A and the UEFA Champions League once apiece. He also won the Ballon d'Or award in 2007, a commemoration for his outstanding performances for Milan that season.

One of those strikes was a stunning solo effort against Manchester United in the Champions League semi-finals. Kaka brilliantly controlled a long ball from Dida before beating three defenders and the United goalkeeper. That was one of the most iconic goals scored by a visiting player at Old Trafford.

Kaka ended his career with 208 goals in 654 appearances in club football, and scored 29 goals for Brazil. He was part of the Brazil squad that won the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and the Confederations Cup in 2005 and 2009. A player that the streets won't forget.

#2 Ronaldo Nazario (two-time FIFA World Cup winner with Brazil)

That hairstyle, that celebration, that smile;Ronaldo is an icon of the game.
That hairstyle, that celebration, that smile;Ronaldo is an icon of the game.

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1976. He is one of the most decorated and well-respected players in the nation's footballing history. Ronaldo has won two FIFA World Cups and as many Confederations Cups with Brazil, and was awarded the Ballon d'Or award twice (1997, 2002).

Ronaldo was one of the most lethal and prolific goalscorers of his time. He scored goals at an extremely quick rate at all the clubs he played for. His final career tally stood at 352 goals in 518 games across competitions. For Brazil, he scored 62 goals in 98 appearances, to take up third place in the all-time scoring list.

That tally includes eight goals in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where Brazil lifted the cup for a record fifth time. He scored twice in the final against Germany, which the Selecao won 2-0.

Il Fenomeno, or 'The Phenomenon' had a trademark style of scoring goals. He usually found himself in one-on-one situations with goalkeepers.

Whether it was due to a pinpoint-through ball from a teammate or thanks to his own trickery and dribbling, Ronaldo often scored in those situations. He often rounded the goalkeeper to stroke the ball into an empty net.

Here is another example of Ronaldo coming up clutch in a final. He scored a sensational round-the-keeper goal for Inter against Lazio in the 1998 UEFA Cup final.

Ronaldo missed nearly 35 games for Brazil between 1999 and 2002 due to injury. One can only imagine how much bigger his legacy would have been had he remained fit for longer in his career.

Nevertheless, Ronaldo Nazario is one of the best Brazilian footballers to grace a football pitch.

#1 Ronaldinho (2002 FIFA World Cup winner)

Ronaldinho doing his trademark celebration after scoring a goal for Brazil
Ronaldinho doing his trademark celebration after scoring a goal for Brazil

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaucho, was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1980. He is very well known all over the world for his smile while playing the game. He also displayed pure ingenuity to humiliate opponents and score some wonderful goals.

Such was Ronaldinho's aura and impact on the football pitch that once in an 'El Clasico' clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid, opposition fans gave him a standing ovation.

In a moment that cemented his legacy as an all-time great, the rigid and demanding fans at the Santiago Bernabeu arose to applaud the Brazilian's jaw-dropping performance against Los Blancos. Real Madrid lost 3-0 on the night.

Ronaldinho was known more for the beauty and elegance of his goals, rather than the number of goals he scored. The man often left opposition defenders perplexed by the tricks he executed with a football.

One such example of that was his 'elastico' skill - a quick flip-flop motion that confused defenders. Here is the legend doing the move in a slow-motion clip from a charity game post his retirement.

Ronaldinho taught young footballers worldwide a very important lesson - that the main aim is to have fun while playing football, irrespective of your objective.

Here is a montage of Ronaldinho's best skill moves throughout his career:

It is safe to say that there may never be another like Ronaldinho, a player who added so much to the game in a relatively short stint at the highest level.

Quick Links

App download animated image Get the free App now